Books Worth Reading

It just occurred to me today. I read a lot of books. I have a blog that I need to post on more often. I could combine these things and write bossy blog posts telling people what books to read!

First up is a book I just finished reading today: “Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality”* by Kristen Schilt. It talks about gender inequality in the workplace as seen through the viewpoint of transgender men. Obviously this book is going to be interesting to me personally because I happen to be a transman, but, as it turns out, transmen have a really useful perspective on gender inequality because they experience being “one of the guys” while remembering how they were treated when they were seen as women. Sometimes the differences in treatment are fairly obvious, such as when a professor said of a transman, “his work is much better than his sister’s”, without realizing that they were the same person. This is not a unique anecdote, either. Although the book primarily focuses on transmen, it also discusses the differences in the reactions people have to transwomen and transmen. Transmen tend to be much more easily accepted because they are seen as moving up, rather than down, the social hierarchy. Also discussed are the different experiences of transmen based on factors such as race, height, and passability (that’s totally a word, I don’t care if I just invented it). Transmen who are tall, white, and pass well receive greater benefit from male privilege than transmen who are short, racial minorities, or have difficulty passing. The book is based on original research by the author, which includes interviews and questionnaires of transmen and their co-workers in Texas and California. A discussion of methodology is included in the appendix.

The next book I’m going to suggest is a very unique one, in that I actually bothered to part with $8 to own a copy of this book, rather than checking it out from the library multiple times. I almost never buy books. In the past year, I’ve bought textbooks, a couple language dictionaries (I had a gift card), and this book. That’s it. Anyway, the book I’m talking about is “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming”** by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. and Howard Rheingold. LaBerge is a leading researcher on lucid dreaming and he developed techniques both to prove the existence of lucid dreaming and to induce lucid dreams. He talks about both in his book. The first half of the book is mostly about how to become lucid and how to stay lucid in a dream. The second half is mostly about what to do once you are lucid. For instance, lucid dreams can be used to overcome nightmares or rehearse a situation, such as a public speaking engagement. I often recommend this book to anyone who is interested in lucid dreaming. Although, honestly, these days I mostly just use the book by leaving it next to my bed as a subtle reminder that, hey, lucid dreams are totally fun and I should try to have more of them. Writing about it is making me want to read it again, though…

The last book I’m going to recommend today is “Gender, Nature, and Nurture” by Richard A. Lippa. I found this book incredibly helpful when I was trying to figure out what gender I am, even though transgender topics are little more than a side note in this book, because part of what I needed to figure out was just what on Earth gender is, in the first place. This book does a good job describing what gender is, covering gender differences (which are mostly small, statistical differences), how gender develops (discussing both nature and nurture theories of gender development), and individual differences in masculinity/femininity. It does a really good job conveying just how incredibly complicated a thing gender is, and it has some really great discussion about how theories about gender developed over time.

I wanted to put a good transgender 101 type book in this list, but I still need to find one. Does anyone know a good transgender 101 book?

* I’m including links to the books on Amazon mostly because Amazon tends to have useful information about books, like previews, descriptions, and comments, not because I actually want people to buy the books on Amazon (unless, of course, I could get money by referring people to Amazon… hmmm). I got all of these books at my local library. I heartily suggest using libraries as a way to access books. If they don’t have it your library, you might be able to get it through inter-library loan or something. It’s worth checking out anyway, because, you know, it’s free.

** I was just reading some of the reviews of this book on Amazon, and I found it absolutely hilarious that most of the bad reviews can be summed up as “but there’s too much science and not enough woo!”

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